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Reality of EA reporting lines. Deal with it!

If you happen to have read my last two posts I was discussing the ideal reporting relationship of the head of Enterprise Architecture (Chief Architect). In my fantasy world EA reports to the CEO or one of his/her direct business leaders. Then I talked about the next best report-to being the CIO which does seem to occur every now and then out there in the wild.

Most commonly though EA reports to the CTO. This comes from the unfortunate history where most EA leaders grew up from the tech stack. Why do I use the word unfortunate? I hope the diagram below explains it.

Where does an organization need the most help from a team of broad, cross-disciplined experts? It is the areas that are not centralized and have potentially lots of variability. Ironically business architecture is the most needed and the least mature in practice. Then comes the application and the use of data space which your application architects are gurus of. The technical portion of data architecture (what tools to use and technical patterns for them) and technology architecture are often managed by centralized teams or outsourced. Which mega cloud vendor (AWS, Azure, Google, ..) or network provider I use doesn’t really depend on what your business does for a living.

What areas does your CTO have accountability for? Compute, Storage, Network, Data Center, Communications, PCs/printers … I.e. the tech stack. Thus the word unfortunate.

First, I want to clarify that technical architects are critical and very much needed. Especially if you are managing a lot of the tech stack still in house and live in the very common mixed world of on-prem and cloud. Many things to figure out and standardize which should be led by your tech architects.

Second, all things are not lost just because you report to the CTO. The big message her is that it’ll be important to build the right relationships with your head of applications and CISO. Getting your grip on the tech stack will be easy as you’ve got your boss’s full support.

As per my first paragraph, I believe EA should be reporting pretty high up in the organization. But if you’re boss is a level below the CIO then I recommend that to be the head of business applications.

OK, I’ll shut up now on this reporting line stuff for a while. My next blog will get into EA’s operating model. Stay tuned.

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